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Understanding Anxiety Disorder

Understanding Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress.  It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what is to come and it is an expected part of life.  When an individual experiences anxiety that is persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, overwhelming, and these anxious feelings begin to interfere with everyday life, it becomes a disorder.  Anxiety disorders have one thing in common – the anxiety occurs too often, it’s too strong, and it’s out of proportion to the present situation.

Anxiety disorders are the most common and pervasive mental disorders in the United State, affecting 40 million adults in the age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.  An estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience any form of anxiety disorder at some time in their lives

The exact causes of anxiety disorders are not fully understood.  Life experiences such as traumatic events appear to trigger anxiety disorders in people who are already prone to anxiety. Inherited traits also can be a factor.


There are several types of anxiety disorders:

  • Substance/medication-induced anxiety disorder

Use of certain medications or illegal drugs, or withdrawal from certain drugs, can trigger some symptoms of anxiety disorder.

  • Agoraphobia

Someone having an intense fear of being in a place where it seems hard to escape or get help if an emergency occurs.  One may panic or feel anxious when on an airplane, public transportation, be in open or enclosed spaces, or standing in or being in a crowd.

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

A person with GAD feels excessive, unrealistic worry and tension with little or no reason.  They may frequently imagine the worst that could possibly happen about future, health, finances, family members, etc.

  • Separation anxiety disorder

Separation anxiety is often thought of as something that only children deal with; however, adults can also be diagnosed with separation anxiety disorder.  Someone feels scared or anxious when a loved one leaves. Anyone can get separation anxiety disorder.  If you do, you’ll feel very anxious or fearful when a person you’re close with leaves your sight and will always worry that something bad may happen to the person.

  • Selective Mutism

This is a type of social anxiety in which young kids who talk normally with their family don’t speak in public, like at school.  It is often associated with extreme shyness, fear of social embarrassment, compulsive traits, withdrawal, clinging behavior, and temper tantrums.

  • Specific Phobia

Someone feels intense fear of specific situations or things that are not actually dangerous, such as heights or flying in an airplane, receiving injections, fear of blood, fear of specific animals.  The fear goes beyond what is appropriate and may cause one to avoid ordinary situations.

  • Social Phobia

This is when a person feels overwhelmingly worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations.  A person getting obsessively worries about others judging you or being embarrassed or ridiculed.

  • Panic disorder

When a person feels sudden, intense fear that brings on a panic attack.  During a panic attack, a person has sudden and intense physical symptoms like a heart attack.  Symptoms can include shortness of breath, heartbeat, dizziness, numbness, or a tingling sensation caused by over-activity in the body’s normal fear response.

Symptoms of Anxiety

The most common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle tension
  • Chest pain
  • Uncontrollable worry
  • Fear
  • Physical discomfort
  • Tingling
  • feeling on edge

Treatment Options opens in a new window

Anxiety disorders are treatable, and the vast majority of people with an anxiety disorder can be helped with professional care.  One of the measures of treating anxiety disorder is by psychotherapy or “talk therapy”.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an example of one type of psychotherapy that can help people with anxiety disorders.  It teaches people different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to anxiety-producing and fearful objects and situations. CBT can also help people learn and practice social skills, which is vital for treating social anxiety disorder.

It can be challenging and frustrating to live with an anxiety disorder and may not go away on their own.  They may get worse over time if you don’t seek help.  The constant worry and fear can make you feel tired and scared.  It’s easier to treat if you get help early.  We in Divine Healthcare Services, Inc. are here to help!

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